“Wait here young lady” he said to me as I finished tearing down my cardboard box and placing it in the recycling bin. I hesitated, based on the situation, but his kind demeanor made me think otherwise. So I waited as he walked back to his grocery cart and his friend continued to dig in the garbage. My garbage. Our garbage.
He pushed aside a lamp with no shade, a box of leftover Domino’s pizza (filled with only the crust I’m sure), until he reached down and pulled up a single pink flower. Unsure of what he was going to say or do, I did what he told me to. I waited.
He turned back around, flower in hand, and began walking towards me. “Hopefully your neighbors don’t see you. You are making them look bad.” I grinned, unsure of what he meant by that. “Here, take this flower as a thank you for being such a good citizen and recycling”. I said thank you and grinned a little bigger. He went back to join his friend “dumpster dive” and I went back to get in my car and go to work.
I see these scenes acted out in movies and hear about them in songs, but thought that's the furthest they come to being reality. But then it happened in my city, in my neighborhood, in my backyard. It happened and I was a lead character who walked away with a single pink flower and an immense amount of guilt.
I think about those two men. I wonder how long they've been living on the street, burying for treasure amongst our junk. I think about me. I wonder how long I've been judgmental and selfish when I'm surrounded by more than enough materialistic things. I think about us. I wonder how long our society has been awkward towards these situations and what we can do to restore love in this world. Lastly, I think about that single pink flower. I wonder how something so bright and vibrant can bloom in a place that can be so dark and dreary. Then again, don't we all?
As Ellen DeGeneres says at the end of every episode:
Be Kind to One Another